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In Memoriam: Radu Florescu (1925-2014)

Radu Florescu

By Kathleen Sullivan | Office of News & Public Affairs

Published: May 20, 2014

Boston College History Professor Emeritus Radu Florescu, co-author of the bestseller In Search of Dracula, which revealed the historical identity of the legendary Dracula for the first time, died in France on May 18 at age 88. He had taught at Boston College for 45 years.

Dr. Florescu and the late Raymond T. McNally, also a professor in the Boston College History Department, published In Search of Dracula in 1972. Their book, which was researched in Romania under a Fulbright grant, was the first to identify Vlad Tepes, a 15th century prince, as the Dracula of literature. Vlad Tepes was known as Vlad the Impaler for impaling his enemies on stakes. Dr. Florescu also located Vlad Tepes’ castle in the Transylvanian Alps. 

The book garnered the writing duo international fame, landing Dr. Florescu on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

Originally banned in Romania, In Search of Dracula was only made available in that country after the fall of Communism. The book has since been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Dr. Florescu and Dr. McNally authored several other books: Dracula Prince of Many Faces; The Complete Dracula; The Essential Dracula; Dracula: A Biography of Vlad the Impaler, and In Search of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Florescu also wrote In Search of Frankenstein and In Search of the Pied Piper, among other books and scholarly articles.

Born in Bucharest, Dr. Florescu was the son of a Romanian diplomat. He left Romania at age 13 at the outbreak of World War II. At the heart of Dr. Florescu’s academic study of Dracula was a desire to shine a light on Romania and Eastern Europe. For many years, he directed the East European Research Center at Boston College. He organized symposia and cultural events celebrating Romanian heritage. He also donated hundreds of books on Romanian history to Boston College. He advised the late US Senator Edward Kennedy on Romanian affairs and the US State Department during the reign of communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. In 1996, Dr. Florescu was appointed Honorary Consul of Romania for New England. In this capacity, he oversaw the presidential and parliamentary voting by Romanians living in the Greater Boston area.  In 2004, he was invited by President Bill Clinton to attend the White House ceremony when Romania was granted membership to NATO.

Tributes to Dr. Florescu have come from throughout the international community. On behalf of King Michael of Romania, the palace issued the following statement, “Through his work, Professor Florescu built a bridge between Romania and the United States, giving Romanian history a drop of universality.”

"In the past century, no American has educated more Americans about Romania -- and Dracula -- than Professor Florescu. I was lucky to be one of his grateful students," said former US Ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe.

Dr. Florescu graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oxford. He earned a doctorate from Indiana University. He joined the Boston College faculty in 1953 and taught in the History Department until his retirement in 1998.

Dr. Florescu’s last public appearance at Boston College was in the fall of 2013 for a book signing for his newest publication, co-authored with Matei Cazacu, Dracula’s Bloodline: A Florescu Family Saga, which tells the story of the links between the Florescus of Romania and Vlad the Impaler.

Dr. Florescu is survived by his wife, Nicole, his children Nicholas ‘74, John ‘76, Radu ‘83 and Alexandra Lobkowicz ’85, and 13 grandchildren.